• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

oak forest to garden plan  RSS feed

 
Willy Walker
Posts: 100
Location: Foot of the Mountain, Front Royal VA
2
chicken fungi hugelkultur
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I just recently purchased land that is primarily an oak forest. There are a few maples but mostly tall to small oak trees. It is now beginning stages of winter and the ground is completely covered with leaves. I have pointed to an area that I will begin to develop into a garden (100x50). This will include raised beds, hugelbeds, herbs, fruit trees, bulbs, flowers, etc. I hope to pick a small spot (15x15) to start a garden for fall of 2015. The rest will be in time. Most likely the spot I will choose to start will be flat.

My thought is to plant various cover crops; red clover, field peas, oats, etc in patches over the entire future grow area. At some point next year my chickens will be set out in the area to (hopefully) enjoy. I am thinking of sheet mulching or growing dakine radish to break up the soil for my first bed(at some point will be fenced from the chickens). I will grow (hopefully) lots of kale, collards, spinach, chard, etc for the first crops. I will also be gathering lots of leaves as I clean up property for a home site. These leaves will sit in a compost for a while. My soon to be chicken tractor should have litter pans, so I will have a pile of that too. It seems like I may have a good supply of coffee grounds coming steadily as well. Pulling back the leaves in a few spots, I am hoping to not till a bit. I know my chickens can do amazing work on top layer of soil.

I plan to plant a few dwarf fruit trees ASAP in the spring, possibly some fruits.

How does this plan sound? Is there any cover crops that I should start with for sure? If I am planing on getting to some of the area later, what happens when the cover crops go to seed? Should I do an initial till? Should I plan to leave the chickens in the remaining area until further work is done? I am thinking of cutting the trees down to ground level and leaving the roots intact, good or bad? I would assume to leave the leaves as they are until I am ready to cover crop?

Thanks for reading

 
Cj Sloane
pollinator
Posts: 3725
Location: Vermont, off grid for 24 years!
86
bee books chicken dog duck fungi solar trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Sounds fine! Someone on permies has feed his chickens mostly acorns but he leaches the acorns for them. If I can remember who it is I'll post.
 
Willy Walker
Posts: 100
Location: Foot of the Mountain, Front Royal VA
2
chicken fungi hugelkultur
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
That seems like it would be a lot of work. Or at least my understanding of leaching acorns by deshelling them. At one point I was thinking of getting a pig or three to help with the garden and fest on the acorns but a little research later and turkeys seem to be the better choice for me. From my understanding the acorns will not need to be deshelled for them to eat.

I am hoping to pick a different patch of land and start this process all over again to make a full mini orchard. That is a second (or third or fourth if you ask my wife) priority.

The best part about this method is that it actually seems doable with far less input than a standard garden approach.


 
Cj Sloane
pollinator
Posts: 3725
Location: Vermont, off grid for 24 years!
86
bee books chicken dog duck fungi solar trees
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Willy Walker wrote:That seems like it would be a lot of work. Or at least my understanding of leaching acorns by deshelling them.

My new acorn sheller came yesterday. I'll report back.
 
Peter Ellis
Posts: 1432
Location: Central New Jersey
40
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Wild turkeys don't need their acorns shelled
It is not clear what you plan on doing with your existing trees.
When you consider location for your first garden clearing, don't forget to think about aspect toward the sun. A southerly slope will get more sun to the ground for a given size clearing, a northerly slope the least.
Lots of factors to consider.
 
Cj Sloane
pollinator
Posts: 3725
Location: Vermont, off grid for 24 years!
86
bee books chicken dog duck fungi solar trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Peter Ellis wrote:Wild turkeys don't need their acorns shelled


Very true! I have given my [non wild] turkey acorns with shells intact but I don't think I could rely on that. There is a massive oak that dropped a ton (literally) of acorns about 2-300 ft from where they hang out but I've never seen them venture over to get them!
 
Cj Sloane
pollinator
Posts: 3725
Location: Vermont, off grid for 24 years!
86
bee books chicken dog duck fungi solar trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Here's a post right below where Alder Burns talks about raising meat birds without grain:
http://www.permies.com/forums/posts/list/40028#325420
 
John Pollard
Posts: 125
Location: Ozarks
5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm doing the same thing in an Oak/Hickory forest. 90% Oak. One thing to keep in mind is that oak leaves are acidic so your soil may be too. If the land has ever had cattle on it in the last few of hundred years and/or you have clay content, there may be a hard pan. Since you're in one of the oldest Englishman inhabited areas, it's most likely had cattle on it and/or been tilled with oxen so you probably do have hardpan. Mine is anywhere from 12-20" down. I wish I had some sort of ripper to cut through that but I don't so I'm doing a one time double digging, cracking the subsoil/hardpan with the fork spade, putting rotted sawdust in the fork holes, laying rotted wood down, hugelish, mixing compost with the topsoil as I put it back in and so far using raised beds since my soil is heavy. (clayey silt to loamy silt with red clay subsoil) Tomatoes did pretty well this year with no watering and a dry spell of 4 weeks. I had very little compost to add in and it wasn't the highest quality. I'm a bit of a prepper so I have lots of dried beans that are pretty old so I've been throwing them around here and there and they've popped up so that helps with nitrogen. The pioneer crop of legumes is a good plan.
 
Cj Sloane
pollinator
Posts: 3725
Location: Vermont, off grid for 24 years!
86
bee books chicken dog duck fungi solar trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
John, have you tried ripping it biologically with daikon? That's what Bill Mollison recommends if you can't keyline to rip it. Let the Daikons poke thru the hardpan and let it decompose (I heard it smell a bit while rotting).
 
Willy Walker
Posts: 100
Location: Foot of the Mountain, Front Royal VA
2
chicken fungi hugelkultur
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The trees that are coming down all have there places. Or at least in my mind. Some will go to hugelbeds, I am thinking I would like to fit 2 to 4 good size hugel beds in. Just where the land turns to a slight hillside. These can be maybe 50 feet in length. I would like to use others to help box out the steeper parts of the slope for almost raised bed effect. I am hoping to use some of the younger trees to make a compost bin with 3 sections for compost flipping.

The slope is a south facing slope so that is great. The slope for the (possible) future orchard is north facing. Which I actually understand to be a better thing for fruit trees.

Thats an interesting thought about the previous usage of the land. I am very curious, more so for interest. I think that due to the placement of my lot that it may have held cattle but doubtful a garden, nor would it have been the best for cattle. I happen to spread across the joining of two good size mountains. Just below the garden area is a dry creek, that I hear can get mighty mean. It looks like I will have standard mountain dirt, full of rocks. Which is why I plan to build up my soil and not go down. I guess I will find out come the first few trees for sure. I hope to actually get them in ASAP next year.

I am interested in hearing more about turkeys. I would imagine it would be a year or more before I had my area ready to take on these additional birds. I currently have excellent luck with fencing in a plot and letting my dogs roam the area whilst letting my chickens free range in the same area. I have yet to loose any birds to ground predators. I plan to continue this strategy with the turkeys. The area has lots of wild turkeys, what impact if any will that have?

After a bit of research, it looks like acorn shelling isn't that hard after all.. Maybe I will bring a few for my birds to let them warm up to them..



 
Cj Sloane
pollinator
Posts: 3725
Location: Vermont, off grid for 24 years!
86
bee books chicken dog duck fungi solar trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Willy Walker wrote:The area has lots of wild turkeys, what impact if any will that have?

A farmer raised a bunch of turkeys a few years ago, only to have them join up with a wild flock and leave! So, don't let yours fraternize with the locals.
 
John Pollard
Posts: 125
Location: Ozarks
5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I've read about the daikons but haven't looked into them but I will. Still, with red clay going all the way down to the bedrock, drainage is always going to be a problem.

Yeah the historical aspect is interesting. I'm right against Iron county. So named because of iron ore in the ground. The first time the area got populated it was for iron ore mines. Then they needed to smelt it so they pretty much stripped the oak forest bare to burn in the smelters. When all the oak was gone, they moved on and any land that was somewhat level was repopulated by cattle farmers. On 8 acres, I've got maybe a dozen trees over 200 years old and 10s of 1000s of young oak. Still, it's a laborious decision for me to cut down a tree. Being white oak, it's fairly rot resistant so it's used for fence posts. Any large straight ones are being saved for building timbers. Depending on your species of oak, it may have some value. Don't let the loggers cut them. Most tend to run over a dozen trees to get the one they want. But if you can cut enough down and drag them to one spot near the road then it may give you some funds. Good firewood too though. Or buy/rent/borrow a mill and make some boards.

Coffee grounds are also going to be acidic. According to wiki, biochar is supposed to help acid soils. (if you have it)
http://websoilsurvey.nrcs.usda.gov/app/WebSoilSurvey.aspx

The above site will give you an idea of your soil/subsoil makeup. It says mine is 5-5.5ph and I have wild blueberries growing here so I don't doubt it. I do need to get a soil test done this spring.

If a legume cover crop went to seed and grew more, no problem. More N for the soil. To get rid of it, you could add your sheet compost and cover with a black tarp in hot weather for a month or three. That would kill all the seeds at or near the surface I think.

As far as cover crop choices, any legume that will grow good with little input. With my acid soil, lespedeza seems to be one of the better choices. That and red clover. Alfalfa if it will grow there is a good one also and makes good forage. Anything you can mow before it goes to seed and still have it continue to grow is like mulching.

Chickens are always a good thing. Have you seen geoff lawton's chicken tractor on steroids video? It stems from Karl Hammer's compost making system in Vermont.
http://www.geofflawton.com/fe/59960-feed-chickens-without-grain
http://www.geofflawton.com/fe/64322-chicken-tractor-on-steroids
You'll have to sign up with your email address if you're not already. I've been signed up for a year and there's no spam issue. Just links to new videos and then announcements when the online pdc course is coming up.

Initial til/dig is a personal preference really. I do it once and if it's not walked on and is mulched, chop and drop things growing along with food etc, I don't think it's ever needed again. If you do dig, I would let the chickens run there for a while afterwards to eat any bug/larvae you turn up. They'll also eat a lot of weed seeds.

So many ways to go about it. Sometimes it seems the best documented for permaculture is in arid zones, not temperate with plenty of rainfall.

midwest permaculture has plant guilds including oak. http://midwestpermaculture.com/2013/04/plant-guilds/ No mention of maple. I wonder if you can graft sugar maple onto them?
 
Benjamin Sizemore
Posts: 40
Location: Colorado @ 7000 feet. zone negative 87b
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
You hardwood forest folks have a ton of clay, but if the area has ever been clearcut (200 years ago), that brief period of open savannah would have started some soil building. Another Mollison trick for breaking up clay is gypsum. They sell it dirt cheap in huge bags of pellets for animal bedding in factory (ick) farms. You just spread that over your future gardening area and wait for rain. I think he says it takes a matter of days for it to work and opens clay hardpan up to air and water a few feet down. Then you plant daikon, clover and some tall grass or something with deep, fibrous roots and one year you have soil. Once you get some organic material in there, the worms show up and go bonkers tilling the soil for you.

If you want to get really tricky, you can put some breathable sheet much over your year's worth of cover crops next fall to mash it all down (after mowing) - cardboard, jute, lots of leaves - or even plastic with some (lots) holes in it for air. Then the worms will have a super extravaganza hootinanny under there over the winter and by late spring all that grass and radish and clover will have been mixed into the soil like magic and turned into fertilizer.

Oh I just remembered, OP, that you have all those trees to chip. So, you can use those chips as the breathable mulch on top of crop growth to create your worm-topia extravaganza. Worms need air, so only a couple inches thick on the mulch. Then you put the chickens on top of that and they eat up all the seeds of stuff you no longer want to grow and they get crazy fat on worms! Plus more fertilizer and great ground prep.

That sort of intensive prep is reserved for zone 1, where you are working maybe 500 square feet at a time, but your soil will be the envy of everybody.



 
Willy Walker
Posts: 100
Location: Foot of the Mountain, Front Royal VA
2
chicken fungi hugelkultur
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
That was an interesting soil link. Though i'm not sure I was fully able to utilize it. I did get this info out of it though. Sounds about right..




Setting

Landform: Mountain slopes
Landform position (two-dimensional): Backslope
Landform position (three-dimensional): Upper third of mountainflank
Down-slope shape: Convex
Across-slope shape: Convex
Parent material: Residuum weathered from sandstone
Typical profile

H1 - 0 to 5 inches: channery loam
H2 - 5 to 24 inches: channery sandy loam
H3 - 24 to 39 inches: very channery sandy loam
H4 - 39 to 49 inches: bedrock
Properties and qualities

Slope: 25 to 65 percent
Depth to restrictive feature: 20 to 40 inches to lithic bedrock
Natural drainage class: Well drained
Runoff class: Medium
Capacity of the most limiting layer to transmit water (Ksat): High (1.98 to 5.95 in/hr)
Depth to water table: More than 80 inches
Frequency of flooding: None
Frequency of ponding: None
Available water storage in profile: Very low (about 2.7 inches)



I have watched a lot of Geoff's videos. The chicken tractor on steroids video is good though not practical for my lifestyle. I don't have access to near as much input as they did. Too bad... I am building a chicken tractor though and I am almost done. I will share pictures soon. For some reason I don't share progress pictures until I'm done.. I will move the chickens around the garden area and then boot them to the woods.


Benjamin, I actually acquired a new, broken chipper last winter. I will soon fix it up and do exactly what you say. I am limbing all of my trees that I fell for this very reason. The neighbors must think I am crazy as I separate all the various wood by size.. Though that is usually how it goes, the crazy looking folks are doing something right.. AND yes to the sheet mulching!

I have also been reading the various orchard forest posts on here. Lots of good information there..


I do have an indoor worm farm that produces about 5 to 10 gallons of castings a year, depending on how much I feed them. It has been plenty for my gardens and it will make for a nice start in the first garden. Though it wont be enough to condition all of the soil. I have been using it during seed or transplant time, about a cup a plant, along with a handfull of crushed egg shells and some compost. Hhmmm.. I miss my garden just thinking about it... We sold our last home for a better life!




 
Willy Walker
Posts: 100
Location: Foot of the Mountain, Front Royal VA
2
chicken fungi hugelkultur
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Just a picture or two to keep me going... All I have is forest ground now... Though it is very promising..

DSC00818.JPG
[Thumbnail for DSC00818.JPG]
20130714_161354.jpg
[Thumbnail for 20130714_161354.jpg]
 
Bryant RedHawk
gardener
Posts: 2292
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
183
chicken dog forest garden hugelkultur hunting toxin-ectomy
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
That looks very promising. I too have oak forest with hickory and sacred cedar mixed in. My soil is Mountainburg very stoney fine sandy loam and has been fallow for many years. I have lots of humus already in the soil and am adding lots of bio char in the areas we are putting into garden plots. We had about 2 acres of wild blackberry and sumac that I have finally gotten down so the understory grasses could show themselves. We found an area that has several persimmon trees and we are developing that area for a persimmon orchard. We will be adding another orchard space on the south slope with pear, peach, plum, blueberry, huckleberry, strawberry, pawpaw. For these plantings I am currently building growing mound swales which will hold the fruit trees, bushes and strawberry plants. Our land is situated smack In the middle of deer trails, we have lots of deer that travel along these highways and so have to make sure they have enough food plantings as to leave ours alone. I am doing this by making feed plots of scarlet clover, oats, rye, buckwheat, corn, soybeans. So far they seem to like the feed plots already in place.

I have a north slope that I will have to do some tree thinning on. I have consulted with the forestry service and am now following their recommendation of walking the woods and marking which trees to remove to open the floor just enough for food plantings. I plan to simply girdle the trees to be removed so they die standing, that way I can harvest them as I need the wood. I do have two areas of thick brush, but I am leaving those since the deer use them for cover.

Good luck with your endeavor, it will be rewarding I am sure of it.
 
The knights of nee want a shrubbery. And a tiny ad:
2017 Homesteaders PDC (permaculture design course) & ATC (appropriate technology course) in Montana
https://permies.com/wiki/61764/Homesteaders-PDC-permaculture-design-ATC
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!